A curious eagle stole a photographer’s drone from the sky and then took a selfie with it.
Photographer Matthew Wood was using a drone to take aerial photos of the scenery in the Pioneer Valley in Queensland, Australia.
However, he lost control of the device when an eagle plucked his DJI Avata drone from the sky.
The only clue Wood has about what happened to his drone before it vanished forever is a one-second selfie of an eagle staring straight down the camera at him.
“I was at one of the popular landmarks in my area which is a mountain range. I put my drone up in the air and was filming a slow floaty hill descent,” Wood tells PetaPixel.
“All was going well until I was diving down one of the grassy hills and my drone took a hit!”
He says he turned the drone around to see an eagle eyeing up and chasing the device. Wood tried to fly the drone away but the eagle grabbed onto it.
“All I saw was the camera pointed at the ground while the eagle flew away with it back to its nest,” the photographer says.
“The image I got of the eagle was the only footage I could get from the goggles. It records the last 30 seconds of the flight to help you find the drone if it is lost.
“The eagle took the drone back to its nest and was trying to eat it!”
Wood, who shares his aerial photography on his Instagram page @skyhigh_imaging, says that he instantly jumped on his motorcycle and went down the range.
The photographer was able to pick up a GPS signal. However, the drone appeared to be in a heavily grassed area, or high in a tree and he was unable to retrieve it.
An ‘Educational Experience’ on Wildlife
At first, Wood was disheartened to lose his favorite drone but now he is thankful for the experience. He says it will inform his aerial photography in the future and he will be more aware of wildlife when flying his drone.
Wood explains: “Initially, I was quite upset because of the cost but after a few days I’ve come to realize I was in the eagle’s territory, and [the drone] became their prey.
“It has become an educational experience on the local wildlife.”
In an interview with ABC News Australia, Professor Gisela Kaplan from the University of New England says drones are dangerous to birds as they can cause severe injuries upon collision. They are also frightening for birds and are often viewed as a threat.
“Some birds have adjusted to city life and all of its noises, but this is a concentrated noise — it’s like a jackhammer in the sky,” Kaplan tells ABC News Australia.
“And drones are unpredictable — they can go forwards, backwards, and sideways and that kind of unpredictability is almost impossible to adapt to.”
Kaplan has recommended that drones be banned from certain areas in Australia during nesting season.
“You don’t allow fishing when there’s spawning season, so don’t allow drones when there’s a breeding season because it will stop the birds from breeding,” she says.
Image credits: All photos by Matthew Wood/@skyhigh_imaging